Being a long time follower of independent Chicago label Kranky Record's output, I was particularly excited to hear news of a new Benoît Pioulard release.
For those not in the loop, Benoît Pioulard is the pseudonym of Michigan artist Thomas Meluch who, in his latest offering, has temporarily relocated from the US to the contrasting landscape of the South East England to record ‘Hymnal’, his fourth for Kranky and his most productive recording to date.
Accompanying his wife to the UK who is studying near Chichester, Meluch has taken inspiration from the religious iconography of local churches and cathedrals sitting within the ethereal landscapes of Kent and Sussex.
‘Hymnal’ produces a beautiful concoction of drone and minimalistic sounds along with wondrously melodic guitar, haunting vocals and stark sounding percussion. Reminiscent of the early Bibio pre-Warp recordings, there seems to be that pastoral buzz floating about. It has been skilfully and lovingly produced in a reel-to-reel recording fashion providing an eerie, nostalgic and warm inner comfort feel.
The sounds are not too dissimilar to the previous Benoît Pioulard long player ‘Lasted’, but this time round seems more progressive in production with a retro-regressive vibe in attitude. Call me a sentimental old fluff but there is something very special about discovering recordings that find their source of inspiration from towns, villages, buildings and their geography.
From the whirling dervish sandstorm of ‘Gospel’ to the bells that toll on ‘Knell’, ‘Hymnal’ is a beautiful piece of work that has a sun-drenched day dream psychedelic vibe to it yet can also be appreciated on a winter’s day with a following cold easterly! Spiritual rather than worldly. A multi-seasonal masterpiece!